Tougher Laws Needed to Save More Teen Drivers

The statistics are sobering.

A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safetysays states could substantially cut the number of deadly car crashes involving teen drivers if they put more restrictions on licensing teens.

Some examples from the IIHS:

  • Delaying the age of licensing drivers by a year to 16 or 17 would cut fatal accidents 13%
  • Not allowing teens to drive at night could lead to 20% drop in deadly crashes with teen drivers.
  • Banning teenagers from driving with other teens in the car would reduce fatal car collisions by 21%
Erik Von Weber | Stone | Getty Images

The common theme in all these suggestions is limiting potential distractions for teens or potentially deadly scenarios until they have more experience behind the wheel.

"The longer parents wait for their teens to get their permit, the longer licensure is delayed, the lower the crash rates," says Ann McCartt with the Insurance Institute.

The problem is that not all states are pushing tighter licensing restrictions.

For example, in South Dakota the minimum age to get a driver’s license is 14 years, 3 months. There are probably some 14 year olds who can handle driving a car, but a lot more who lack the maturity needed behind the wheel.

When I look back at some of the stupid stuff I pulled while driving as a 16 year old, I shudder the memories. My guess is that most people (including lawmakers) feel the same way.

It's time they step up and realize they have the chance to dramatically cut teen driving accidents by passing tougher laws.


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